The Young People Move to the Streets to Protest Slow or Lack of Action on Climate Change Challenges…

by Hank Boerner – Chair & Chief Strategist, G&A Institute

When our young people take to the streets in significant number, there is usually a revolution of some type in store, history tells us.  Revolutions belong to the young, we can say with some certainty if history is our guide. 

Think: Young “Minutemen” in the American Revolution, youngsters on the barricades in the French Revolution, counter-sitters and marchers in the Civil Rights protests in the American South. 

Dramatic change followed these protests. And now, we watch the young men and women in the streets of Hong Kong.

So what to make now of at least four million young men and women flooding into the streets and plazas of large cities and local communities around the world to “protest” their views of “inaction on climate change challenges” by those adults in charge (government and business, especially).

In New York City, Rome, Amsterdam, Tel Aviv, Madrid & Barcelona, Montreal, Berlin, Vienna, and many other of the world’s cities, on September 20th hundreds of thousands of young people rallied in protest and called on leaders to protect our planet. 

There were marches, music, signs of all sorts, speeches, and other public expressions intended to draw attention to the dangers posed by climate change.

A real crisis in our time and a dangerous threat to the young men and women and their younger peers in the decades ahead!

As symbol of the moment, climate activist Greta Thunberg (at age 16) boldly sailed over the seas from her home in Sweden (rather than take a jet airplane) to get to New York City for the celebration of Climate Week and the gathering of leaders at the United Nations General Assembly).

In interviews she commented that she does not understand why world leaders — including the President of the United States — would mock children and teenagers for acting on science that advances evidence that climate change is real – and dangerous for humanity and our planet.

But business is responding – and investors and the public sector, too. 

In one of the focus features we bring you this week, in the Harvard Business Review author Andrew Winston tells us what 1,000 CEOs really think about climate change and inequality. (We know Winston from his best-seller, “Green to Gold”.) 

He reminds us that nearly 200 CEOs working through the Business Roundtable (BRT) declared that business is no longer just about maximizing shareholder profit.

Many more hundreds of CEOs are in agreement and many are focused on climate change.  Are we moving fast enough? 

A report from UN Global Compact and Accenture (“The Decade to Deliver: A Call to Business Action”) presents the views of more than 1,000 global executives on their views of sustainability.

All of the large-cap company CEOs interviewed believe that sustainability issues are important to the future success of their enterprises.  The biggest challenge is climate change. 

This week our Top Stories (plural) are presented as snapshots of where we are as consumers, investors, government leaders and yes, business leaders, focus on sustainability and especially climate change matters.

An appropriate footnote:  in rural Southwest Montana, a participant in the local rally by mostly young people had this to say in a letter to the editor of the Bozeman Daily Chronicle in response to criticism of the young peoples’ rallies:  

“Climate change is not a political issue. It is a life or death issue. Our children are asking in what way school matters when our future is disintegrating before our eyes. 

“Children have as much right and reason to march anyone.  They march because they can still see possibility, opportunity and reasons to fight four just futures. 

“Next time, maybe you should join us to understand what our kids are marching for.”

Our offerings for you this week:

After strikes, youth climate activists keep pressure on leaders
Source: Reuters 

What 1,000 CEOs Really Think About Climate Change and Inequality
Source: Harvard Business Review

Business leaders join the UN Global Compact Leaders Week to address climate crisis and advance the SDGs
Source: UN Global Contract

Banks worth $47 trillion adopt new UN-backed climate, sustainability principles
Source: UN News 

Markets face major risks over lax climate forecasts, top investors warn
Source: Reuters 

The second-largest gift to a US university was pledged to Caltech. It’s being used for climate research
Source: CNN 

Climate Activism Requires More Than Just Sustainability Statements From Brands
Source: Ad Week 

Most of world’s biggest firms ‘unlikely’ to meet Paris climate targets
Source: The Guardian 

Lead on global climate change and sustainability
Source: St. Peter Herald 

Editorial: Climate Week 2019
Source: Advanced Science News 

Climate crisis seen as ‘most important issue’ by public, poll shows
Source: The Guardian 

UN Global Compact Launches Stock Index – And it Outperforms the Market!

by Hank Boerner – Chairman, G&A Institute

The number of Sustainability Indexes available to investors continues to grow — demonstrating the growing interest in Sustainability by investors.  Another major index was announced yesterday under the UN Global Compact brand.  With the recent announcement of the Thomson Reuters Corporate Responsibility Indexes in April, we see this space really heating up.

The “Global Compact 100” stock index was launched by the UN Global Compact (UNGC) yesterday.  The index is composed of equities  that are committed to the UN’s 10 principles.  The index is also known as the “GC 100” and was launched in collaboration with the ESG research firm Sustainalytics.  The companies selected adhere to the Global Compact’s 10 principles and also show commitment by “executive leadership and consistent profitability”.

On top of the companies commitment to Sustainability, UNGC says the index has outperformed the FTSE All World Index for 2 years straight, with a 26.4% gain vs a 22.1% (FTSE All World Index) gain in the past 1 year, and a 19.0% gain vs a 17.7%  gain in the last 2 years.  In the past 3 years the index has matched the FTSE All World return at 12% – this illustrates once again the claim that their is no cost to investing in Sustainable companies, and in many cases there is an advantage in the marketplace leading to out-performance of the market.

A proprietary methodology is used that investigates a range of data points devised from the Global Compact’s ten principles in the areas of human rights, labor standards, environmental stewardship, and anti-corruption. Only the Global Compact signatories that are currently covered in Sustainalytics research universe – approximately 722 companies in total were used in creating the index. (The UNGC has just about 8,000 corporate signatories, of which approximately 1,000 are publicly traded companies.)

Here is some info on the Eligibility for the Index and the Constituent Selection Process take n from the UNGC:

Eligibility for the Index:
Companies are eligible for the GC 100 if they or their parent company have been Global Compact signatories for a minimum of one year, are publicly listed, and fall within the research universe of Sustainalytics, which provided the research for the index. As well, they must pass a financial screen that requires positive pre-tax earning on average for the 3 years preceding the index annual review. In the case that a company is already a constituent of the index, it will only be removed if there are two consecutive years of negative 3-year average earnings figures.

Constituent Selection Process:
The constituents of the GC 100 are reviewed on an annual basis in September.

Constituents are chosen for the Index with the dual goal of having a sector representation (free-float market cap weights) within a range of the key, well-known global indexes; and to choose companies that have strong practices and performance in adhering to the principles of the UN Global Compact around management of human rights, labour rights, the environment and anti-corruption. Among the indicators used in the selection of the constituents were the company’s level of reporting in relations to the Global Compact’s required annual Communication on Progress and whether or not the company’s chief executive submitted its required annual letter of support for the UN Global Compact and its principles.

As part of the index annual review, there may be changes in the constituents to better align the sector representation of the GC 100 with global indexes or to replace some constituents due to changes in company practices or performance with respect to implementation of the Global Compact principles.

 Stay tuned to SRI Equity Indexes for investors — this is a growth industry now.

Read the full announcement on Accountability Central here..